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I tried a window-cleaning robot and things went surprisingly well

Ecovac's Winbot W2 Omni makes me wish I had more windows in my house to see it work all day.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
Winbot W2 Omni
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The Winbot W2 Omni is available now for $600.
  • The robot works indoors or outdoors and cleans seamlessly, picking up dirt without smearing it around and smudging your glass; it also navigates the span of the glass, cleaning the full window without missing spots.
  • I wish the device worked while plugged in and cleaned the edges of windows more effectively.

I've just finished testing a device that makes me feel like it came in a time machine from the future. The Winbot W2 Omni is a window-cleaning robot with a portable station to clean windows inside and out.

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Ecovacs has been making window-cleaning robots since 2011, but this is the first time that I've tested one -- and I'm glad I did. Sometime during those 13 years, Ecovacs perfected the art of window cleaning; I call it an art because the Winbot W2 Omni turns the chore into a form of entertainment for the owner.

View at Ecovacs

The Winbot's setup is pretty easy. The robot comes with a lightweight station where you keep everything: the robot that is connected to the battery inside the station, two mopping pads, a squeeze bottle to add water, a rope, and a charging cable.

There's a battery inside the portable station so you can bring the robot outside to clean exterior windows. Ecovacs estimates that the battery lasts up to 110 minutes, which translates into a 592-square-foot coverage area.

Also: The best robot vacuums for 2024: Expert tested and reviewed

For reference, an average house in the US has 22 windows and 440 sq ft of window area (indoors). The Winbot W2 Omni is thus designed to clean the inside of all the windows in an average home on a single charge.

Winbot W2 Omni
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

The Winbot W2 Omni has a compound cable that works as a safety rope and power cord, which is automatically wound inside the station with the press of a button.

After charging the robot and setting it up in the Ecovacs app, the Winbot W2 robot needed me to install one of the two included microfiber mopping pads. I wet mine with water and wrung it out so it was damp, not dripping, before attaching it to the robot's velcro backing.

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I then filled up the tank with a cleaner. The Winbot W2 Omni instruction manual recommends using water as the cleaning liquid in the robot, so I didn't want to use a window cleaner that may erode the robot's mechanisms. I tried water but ultimately opted for the Force of Nature all-purpose cleaner, a hypochlorous acid and sodium hydroxide that disinfects but is gentle enough on the skin.

Winbot W2 Omni
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

After filling the robot with cleaner and attaching the mop pad, I turned on the station, held the robot against the window, and pressed the button on the robot. The station announces when the robot is firmly attached so you can let go.

Just like that, the Winbot W2 attaches to your window and effortlessly glides across without smearing dust and dirt, a concern I had when setting it up. Instead, the Winbot sprays the water on the window as it goes, and then the microfiber pad picks up the dirt, leaving you with clean windows and a dirty pad.

Winbot W2 Omni

What the Winbot W2 Omni looks like from the other side.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

I gave my Winbot the ultimate test: my sunroom's sliding glass door. My dog likes to nap in the sunroom when the weather's nice, and we put him in there while the kids are eating so he can have a cool place to relax with access to the yard. My one-year-old dog also likes to jump, especially when the kids try to play with him through the door.

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The combination of a muddy yard, an energetic dog, and messy kids regularly results in layers of dry mud outside the glass door and tiny sticky handprints inside. It takes me at least two passes with a window-cleaning solution to clean just the dog's muddy side of the sliding door, with the first pass mostly smearing dirt around and leaving a cloudy mess.

Winbot W2 Omni

The Winbot W2 Omni's microfiber pad traps the dirt instead of spreading it around.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

When I set up the Winbot W2 Omni, I thought it would have similar troubles. I was expecting a first pass to wipe up dirt, a pause to wash the microfiber pad, and a second pass to finish the cleaning. To my surprise, the robot tackled all the mud and dirt in a single pass, giving me a clear view outside.

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We also have a large arched window at the second-story level in our entryway that we have never cleaned because we don't have a death wish. My husband climbed a ladder and set the robot on the part of the window he could reach. The Winbot W2 Omni also cleaned that window, but it alerted us that it was slipping and told us to check the app when it was time to clean the arched edge. 

The Winbot W2 Omni didn't reach the edges completely, as shown in the picture below. A tiny sliver of window area didn't get wiped down, which shouldn't be a big deal, unless your windows are very dirty.

Winbot W2 Omni
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

When I opened the app, I was told, "Remote cleaning recommended for the current window." My husband and I took turns driving the robot around the window with the Ecovacs app and it sprayed while cleaning. The result was just as effective as autonomous cleaning. 

ZDNET's buying advice

The Winbot W2 Omni is one of those devices I wouldn't have gotten before testing it, but now that I have, I'm sold. As soon as I turned mine on, I thought to myself, "Where have you been all my life?"

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As far as cons, I only have a couple. I wish the robot worked while plugged in instead of needing a charge before cleaning a window, and I also wish it gave a louder alert when it's done cleaning. Right now, the robot dings and says the cleaning is finished, but it remains on as it must stay attached until it's safely removed. Unfortunately, the robot's operating noise drowns out the sound of the alert unless you're standing right next to it.

These inconveniences are minor compared to the benefits of having clean windows in return for a tiny fraction of the work, especially if you live in an apartment or have many windows. The Winbot W2 Omni is priced at $600, which seems fair for a portable window-cleaning robot that performs this flawlessly.

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